There is no crystal ball to tell ecologists how forests of the future will respond to the changing climate, but a University of Arizona-led team of researchers may have created the next best thing.

By combining tree-ring data with U.S. Forest Service inventory data on Arizona's ponderosa pines, the team captured a more complete picture than traditional models have provided of what drives future tree growth. The researchers predict a 56 to 91% decline in individual tree growth, according to a new study published in Global Change Biology.

"The growth declines we're forecasting will mean less uptake of atmospheric carbon dioxide in the future by Arizona's forests," said lead study author Kelly Heilman, a postdoctoral research associate in the UArizona Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research. "While Arizona's forests are relatively small in terms of their contribution to the total U.S. carbon sequestration, our approach can be used to make the same predictions for forests around the world."

Read the full article about future forests at Environmental News Network.